Tree Care Services of Vancouver, WA and Portland, OR

Tree Care

What You Need To Know About Tree Fertilization In Vancouver, WA

By AK Timber

Fertilizing your trees may not seem like something you need to do, but it is actually an essential activity for someone living in Vancouver. Tree fertilization has many benefits that go beyond just your trees – it can help to keep the rest of your yard safe as well.

Tree fertilization is something that you want to take seriously – do not do it yourself. The application methods, tools, chemicals, and timing all matter to ensure that there is maximum impact. Even so, there are some things you should learn for yourself to make a decision about whether tree fertilization is right for your Vancouver, WA yard.

Why Should I Fertilize My Trees?

Credit: USDA
  • Helps fall and spring shows
  • Prevents nutrient starvation, particularly during difficult times of the year like winter
  • Can help the tree to produce more fruits

The main reason that most people choose to fertilize their trees in Vancouver, WA is because it helps their appearance. Trees that have been fertilized tend to look healthier, have fuller foliage, better color, and perform better in times of trouble.

We all know that there are difficulties during certain times of the year – summer tends to dry out trees whereas winter freezes them out. A fertilized tree can actually help the other plants and foliage in your yard as well. Sure, there are some trees that may be just fine without fertilization, but most people shouldn’t take that risk. Trees are just too important.

According to the University of Missouri, fertilization won’t solve every problem that your trees can have, but it can help to make them stronger to withstand problems that do emerge over a tree’s lifespan.

Should All Trees Be Fertilized?

Credit: Anika Malone
  • Not all trees need to be fertilized
  • Most trees will benefit from fertilization
  • Testing can conclude whether or not a tree should be fertilized

Of course, there are certain trees that will benefit from fertilization and certain trees that actually need it in order to survive.

Tree Help summarizes best: ” Trees growing in their natural habitat should have access to all of the minerals they need to survive and grow.  Anything you can do to mimic that habitat can reduce the need for fertilizer.  This may include letting leaves remain on the ground in the fall instead of raking them up.  Chances are, though, that despite your best efforts, the need for fertilizer will not be entirely eliminated.”

Essentially – you are doing something good for your tree when you use fertilizer, no matter what kind of fertilizer you use.

Should I Fertilize At A Specific Times?

  • In general, spring or fall fertilization is best
  • It all depends on the type of tree that you have
  • Sometimes you may have to fertilize more than once per year

Certain plants and trees need fertilizer at specific times. This is when their roots are most ready to absorb the nutrients within the fertilizer. Usually, roots are ready when they are growing and the soil is moist. For most trees, this is during the early spring and early summer, according to Clemson.

You do not want to fertilize during a drought, despite the fact that you think it will help your trees. If there is no water present, the plants will not be able to absorb the nutrients.

If you are going to apply fertilizer to other trees or your grass, you want to try to do everything around the same time so that they are not competing to get the nutrients.

Of course, there are some other great times to fertilize, like when you first plant a tree or if there is something specific happening that will stress out the tree.

Will Any Fertilizer Work?

  • There are specific fertilizers that work better than others
  • It may depend on the type of tree that you have
  • Soil testing can help you understand what will work best

The key to properly fertilizing the trees, shrubs, and bushes in your yard is to ensure that you use the right kind of fertilizer. Not all fertilizers are created equally. Some are specially formulated to match with certain fertilizers. These fertilizers can help to do many things – they can match with specific areas, specific types of trees, or specific problems. It is best to talk to a tree care professional to help you determine what your trees need.

For the science of it, the University of Massachusettes explains: “Basic plant nutrition involves the uptake of sixteen mineral elements essential to plant growth. In addition to carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, which are obtained from air and water, the elements nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) are required in greatest abundance. Research in woody plant nutrition has shown however that nitrogen is the element that yields the greatest growth response in trees and shrubs. For this reason, high nitrogen fertilizers with N-P-K ratios of 4-1-1, 3-1-1 or 3-1-2 are generally recommended for feeding established woody plants. These include fertilizers with analyses such as 8-2-2, 15-5-5, 24-8-16 and similar formulations. The analysis refers to % nitrogen, % phosphorus (as P2O5) and % potassium (as K2O) in the fertilizer.”

Fertilizing your trees is something that you should absolutely consider – no matter how old or young your tree is. Whether you just planted it, you are entering into an important time of year, or you are struggling to keep your tree healthy. If you aren’t sure what type of fertilizer to use, when to fertilize, or you just want what is best for your tree, reach out to a professional.

Contact AK Timber Services for all of your tree care needs – we can help you at any stage of the tree process, from planting and taking care of your tree to pruning and cutting it down to watering. Of course, we can also help you with any questions about whether or not you can remove trees or debris from your yard. Call us today at (360) 635-1076 for all of your tree care needs – we offer free estimates. No matter what, make sure that you do not take tree trimming into your own hands, as this can cause quite a bit of damage.

Header photo courtesy of Dick Thompson on Flickr!

Best Trees For Rainy Environments

By AK Timber

Selecting a tree that is drought tolerant is important for some people, but in Vancouver, WA, it might be even more important to plant trees that can withstand wet soils and rainy climates. Why? Most people assume that the more water there is, the better everything will be – that isn’t necessarily the case. In fact, some trees truly cannot withstand the amount of rain that certain places get. They will start to rot from the inside out and eventually will die. Sometimes, the roots get to be too much for the wet soil and they can overturn.

So what can you do?

If you are looking to plant trees, the best thing you can do is plant trees that can withstand wet environments. That way, you won’t have to worry next time there is a rainstorm.

Here are our top choices:

1. River Birch

  • Grows to about 40 feet
  • Spreads about 50 feets
  • Turns beautiful colors in fall

The first tree you may want to consider is the river birch or betula nigra. This is an absolutely gorgeous tree that has pink and yellow undertones to it. It is perfect to wet soils and is fairly hardy. It was originally found on the river banks in the south, but it has spread across the country at this point. This is a favorite for many people because it is so unique – the shaggy and flaking bark (sometimes referred to as “peeling skin”) gives it a softer appearance that complements many landscapes.

When the river birch reaches maturity, it becomes especially beautiful. Naturally, it will take on a pyramid shape (and it looks even better when trimmed) with diamond shaped foliage.

According to Barcham, the tree is also the tree thrives in many different conditions – including near cities and even in more arid environments. As the climate around Vancouver continues to change, it is a great option for anyone who wants to plant a tree that will stay for a long time.

2. Swamp Oak

  • Grows to 45 feet tall
  • Spreads about 45 feet
  • Takes on a rounded appearance

The swamp oak tree is another beautiful tree that has peeling bark – this is a common thread through many of the trees that seem to thrive in wet weather. These are so popular because of the lobed, two-tone leaves that seem to attract attention. They are quite dark on the top but have a silvery-white underside that creates a lot of visual interest. In the fall, however, watch out – they are a beautiful orange-gold to yellow.

If you are looking for shade trees, these are some of the best options that you can make.

One thing to note is that while swamp oaks will take on wet soil, it should be well drained. According to the Penn State Extension, “Sloped sites are not necessarily well drained. Soils that have poor internal drainage with high clay content, or sites with high water tables may all hold too much water for trees and shrubs to survive.”

3. Shademaster Honeylocust

  • Grows to 45 feet tall
  • Spreads about 35 feet
  • Doubles as drought tolerant

If you are looking to plant a tree that grows quite quickly, the Shademaster Honeylocust is a fantastic option. It has delicate, fragrant flowers that many people will love. It has an open silhouette that doesn’t give a ton of shade if you prune it (but it can grow thick if you don’t) but does allow for plants and grass to bloom under it. Another reason so many people love it, according to Arbor Day, is because it is tolerant to wet soil, pollution, salt, and drought.

Many homeowners will choose to plant this tree because it is very easy to plant and grow, it is quite showy, and it doesn’t make a lot of dirt, which many people don’t appreciate.

As an added bonus, they tend to bring a lot of wildlife to your yard.

4. American Hornbeam

  • Can grow to 25+ feet tall
  • Spreads to 20 feet
  • Has a smooth trunk

The American hornbeam is a native tree to the Chicago area, but it adapts well to areas like ours. It is frequently used for shady landscapes or gardens. The new leaves are quite stunning, coming out in a reddish-purple color, though they will change from yellow to a fiery orange in the fall. Even in the winter, this tree is beautiful thanks to the blue-gray bark.

Homeowners use this tree for many purposes, including massing, screening, shade, and decoration. It isn’t too tall, so it looks absolutely great in smaller yards. It is important to plant this tree in the spring and note that it is difficult to transplant because it does have roots that spread quite a bit.

This is a tree that can live through a bunch of other types of soil, but it is really built for soggy areas.

According to Oregon Live, “Besides rainfall, there are other factors that can contribute to soggy soil, especially if the growing area sits on a high water table or has soil that is heavy clay or drains poorly. If that soggy area sits in a shady spot protected from winds, it may remain wet or soggy year-round. Water from higher elevations and surrounding hardscapes — streets, driveways, rooftops — may collect in a low spot in the yard, resulting in soggy soil.” This means that even if you do plant this tree, you do want to worry about some drainge. Need help determining what type of soil you have? Shorty’s Garden Center is a good place to go.

Contact AK Timber Services for all of your tree care needs – we can help you at any stage of the tree process, from planting and taking care of your tree to pruning and cutting it down to watering. Of course, we can also help you with any questions about whether or not you can remove trees or debris from your yard. Call us today at (360) 635-1076 for all of your tree care needs – we offer free estimates. No matter what, make sure that you do not take tree trimming into your own hands, as this can cause quite a bit of damage.

Header photo courtesy of patchattack on Flickr!

Springtime Signs Your Trees Are Unhealthy

By AK Timber

When trees are blooming in the spring, it is a great time to notice that something just isn’t right. During spring, trees are doing quite a bit of work and it is the best time to spot something that is going wrong.

Identifying something going wrong with your trees can be difficult, especially for people who don’t know a lot about trees or how they grow. Sometimes, trees will do some pretty strange things in the springtime and it is completely normal.

Since the inner workings of your tree are probably a mystery to you, it is best to learn some of the telltale signs of a bigger problem:

1. Excessive Branch Loss

  • It is normal for some branch loss
  • Too many may signal a problem
  • Look for clusters

During the winter months and as the temperature starts to warm up, trees are largely dormant. This makes it somewhat difficult to evaluate the health of the tree. During these early stages, however, there is one thing that you can spot: broken branches littering your yard. While heavy rains or strong winds will commonly bring down a few branches during this time of the year, seeing an excessive number of downed branches can signal that something is going very, very wrong.

According to Love To Know, it is important to remember that some trees are self pruning, which means that they will shed branches at a given time. This is especially true of fruit bearing trees.

2. Trees Are Leaning Suddenly

  • Largely due to other problems
  • Make sure soil is steady
  • Can sometimes be fixed

Another problem that sometimes makes itself present during the spring months is a leaning tree. Often, people chalk this up to planting the tree crooked or some soil loss. Sometimes, especially in younger trees, this can be the problem. However, older trees typically don’t have this problem unless there is something else going on.

Trees that have been weakened by diseases, infestations, or other structural problems lack the strength to keep themselves steady when the soil moves or there is a weakening in the root system. If this is the case for your tree, you may want to check for a common problem called a “lifting root plate” which, according to the University of Florida, causes most structural support problems.

3. The Leaves, FLowers, or Fruit Don’t Look Right

  • Can occur as they bloom or later on
  • Sometimes growth is slow
  • Growth may only occur near the tips

As the leaves, fruit, and flowers begin to grow in the spring, you might notice that they do not look like they used to look. This could mean that the tree has simply matured, according to the University of Arkansas OR it can mean that the tree is unhealthy. If your leaves are slow to develop, it could signal a problem or it could just be the result of a difficult season.

If there is nothing developing, it could mean that there is a portion of the tree that is dead or that the entire tree is dead. If only leaves develop but no fruit or flowers, it is a sign that the tree is not healthy and you may need to take steps to get it healthy.

In short, if a tree’s leaves, flowers, or fruit look unusual or are completely absent, you may want to have the tree inspected to see if it is healthy.

4. You Spot Fungi Growing Alongside Your Trees

  • Some fungi is okay
  • Sometimes, it can be a symptom of a significant problem
  • Can kill some weaker trees

If you have fungi (mainly mushrooms, but it can be other fungi as well) around the base of your tree, you might have a problem on your hands. These organisms can eat away at the base of your tree and your bark, which can open a pathway for other infestations and diseases. They can also be a sign that there are already parts of the tree that are dead.

It is important to remove them – but you cannot just pull them off. The Tree Center explains: “Fungi come in many shapes and sizes, with the large ones being the most conspicuous. Often a fungus is like an iceberg – what’s visible is only a small part of what’s there. If you see a mushroom or puffball you might think that’s the whole thing, but in fact it’s just a fruit. Its purpose is to grow, then scatter, the spores that will grow into more fungi, and it won’t last for long. The actual organism it’s growing from is a network of threads buried just below the surface, and this network is the feeding, growing part of the fungus. In the case of a mushroom of puffball it’s nourishing itself on decaying plant matter in the soil. Other species will be feeding on a dead, or living, tree.”

5. You Have A Lot of Shoots

  • Healthy trees have shoots too
  • But if you have too many, that’s a problem
  • Can be caused by stress, abnormalities, or pests

If you see healthy trees that grow tall, you shouldn’t see any shoots on the base of the tree. If you do see a few, it might not always be a problem. However, if you see a lot of them, it can be a signal of a bigger problem.

Love Your Landscape says that these are bad for your trees: “Those stems are called suckers, because they zap water and nutrients from the main tree. As suckers are unhealthy for trees and they are unsightly, it’s important to know how to eliminate them and when possible, how to prevent them in the first place.”

It is best to eliminate them as soon as possible.

Contact AK Timber Services for all of your tree care needs – we can help you at any stage of the tree process, from planting and taking care of your tree to pruning and cutting it down to watering. Of course, we can also help you with any questions about whether or not you can remove trees or debris from your yard. Call us today at (360) 635-1076 for all of your tree care needs – we offer free estimates. No matter what, make sure that you do not take tree trimming into your own hands, as this can cause quite a bit of damage.

Header photo courtesy of gailhampshire on Flickr!

3 Reasons Why You Don’t Want To Neglect Your Trees

By AK Timber

Trees are some of the most beautiful things on the face of the earth. They can be short and beautiful, with flowering buds and sweet scents or they can be tall and strong, sheltering your home from high winds, sun, and pollution. No matter what type of tree you have, you want to ensure that you take care of them. Why? A tree that is left to stand without any help can be extremely dangerous.

Now, that doesn’t always mean that your health is in danger. Sometimes, it can mean that your trees themselves are in danger. You want to ensure that you know enough about your trees to know when something is wrong with them – and then you know enough to take action as soon as possible.

By knowing your trees, and having a tree care expert on speed dial, you can avoid some of those problems. If you don’t? Here are some of the things you may face:

3. Your House Could Be Damaged

  • Falling branches do a lot of damage
  • Trees can grow into basements or outdoor fixtures
  • Certain disease or infestations can transfer to home

When trees aren’t properly taken care of, you might fail to notice that a branch has died, was broken, is infested, or has some other problem that might render the structural integrity unsafe. When there is a storm of any kind with high winds or heavy precipitation, there is a chance that the branch could break. The branch falling by itself might not seem dangerous – but if you have anything in the vicinity of the tree, then you might have a problem. Pools, hardscaping, walkways, cars, sheds, your home, people, power lines, or anything else in the way of the tree could face a problem.

It can also harm the price of your home if you are looking to sell it – trees can add a lot of worth.

According to House Logic, “A mature tree can account for as much as 10% of your assessed property value, depending on your market,” which means that you will actually be lowering the price of your property if you don’t take care of your trees.

2. It Costs More To Fix

  • Trimming and pruning takes more time
  • Need harsher chemicals to fix infestations
  • Takes much longer until the tree is beautiful again

If you have just moved into a home where the trees were neglected or you are just starting to worry about your trees, you might want to find a way to bring that tree back. The truth is that trees are extremely hardy and they should be able to come back from even the worst neglect – but that doesn’t mean that it will be easy to get them where you want to get them to be.

Sadly, neglect adds up over time. What might have started as a problem on one part of the tree might spread to another part of the tree quite quickly. When your problems compound, you will have to go through more steps to get it healthy again. We tend to think that it is worth it.

Sometimes, you will be able to save your tree. It will cost money to save it, unfortunately. That is why we recommend seeking the help of a professional that will find the best ways to fix your problem.

The Impatient Farmer warns that, “In other circumstances, however, you may want to remove [the tree]. Trees that are weak and prone to breakage pose a hazard to property, people, and animals. Those with shallow roots can cause lawn damage. Trees infested by disease or insects may pass on their infestations to neighboring trees. Trees that are 50% or more damaged usually should be removed.”

1. You Could Kill Your Tree

  • Young trees need the most help
  • Sometimes leaving your tree be is helpful
  • Still, you need to know what your tree looks like healthy

If you neglect your tree for too long, there is a chance that it will die. Trees are living things and if something does go wrong, they will need help to feel better and stand as strong as they once did. It is especially important to monitor your trees in the winter months and during the spring, when they are doing the most work.

It is also important that you take care of your tree after you do any work on it, when you have any visible problems, and right after the tree was planted in your yard. It doesn’t take long to look over them – just do a few laps around your yard.

Remember, Canopy explains why you need to be careful when you plant the tree: “The first five years are critical for the long-term health of a tree. Proper watering, pruning, and other tree care will ensure a healthy, mature tree and drastically reduce future maintenance costs.” Make sure never to neglect a tree once you plant it, as this is the most important period.

Taking care of your trees is something that you need to do, whether you have a potted tree in your living room or a high standing tree in your yard. It just doesn’t make sense not to take care of them – they are a part of your life and do enough to help you breathe clean air.

Contact AK Timber Services for all of your tree care needs – we can help you at any stage of the tree process, from planting and taking care of your tree to pruning and cutting it down to watering. Of course, we can also help you with any questions about whether or not you can remove trees or debris from your yard. Call us today at (360) 635-1076 for all of your tree care needs – we offer free estimates. No matter what, make sure that you do not take tree trimming into your own hands, as this can cause quite a bit of damage.

Header photo courtesy of mark byzewski on Flickr!

4 Signs Your Tree Needs Trimming

By AK Timber

Your trees are living, breathing things and sometimes they need to be taken care of properly. Whether you think about it like a haircut, something necessary to make your trees healthy or like getting a manicure, something that makes your trees look beautiful, you need to allow your tree to get these little luxuries. Much like split ends or nail ridges, your tree gives off signals that it is time to get some work done.

Trees don’t always give off subtle hints that something needs to happen, but that doesn’t mean people respond in the best ways. Too often, they try to take care of their trees by themselves when, in reality, they need a professional to help them. If you do it yourself, you might cause even more damage and spread the reason the tree needs pruning in the first place.

Here are four signs your tree is ready for a trimming:

4. Branches Are Crossing

  • Biggest sign that a tree isn’t taken care of properly
  • One of the branches (at least) needs to go
  • Rubbing needs to be taken seriously

If you don’t take care of your trees properly, one of the biggest tells that we see is the crossing of branches. This is when branches grow so closely together that they rub and cross, wearing away at each of them. If you see this, you absolutely need to cut at least one of the branches and then treat the one that remains, especially if there are any wounds.

According to Texas A&M, you have to be extremely careful about when and where you make these cuts. Doing something at even the slightly wrong angle can open up your tree to many diseases and infestations. After these branches have been pruned and trimmed, you need to take care of them like you would any other wound.

3. You Have A Lot Of Deadwood

  • A sign that tree is near death
  • Decay sets in quite quickly
  • The tree might need to be removed

One of the most obvious signs that you need to take care of your tree and have a professional come in to prune it is that it has deadwood. No, not like the television show but like wood that is rotting and decaying away. This is a cry for help from your tree and requires immediate action.

Check your tree to see if it is actually dead. According to The Spruce, you can do this yourself: “Just beneath the outer layer of every branch and twig is the cambium, a thin green layer. It is green in every season, even winter, but it turns brown when the plant dies. This is the most decisive way to test young wood, with an outer layer thin enough for you to scratch with pruners, a knife, or your fingernail on the youngest wood. On old branches with thick bark, you may need to slowly use a saw or another method of checking the wood.”

If you think that there is deadwood, it doesn’t mean that it is the end for your tree. Instead, professional trimming can save its life. Once again, you need to act quickly. This is not a time to drag your feet.

2. The Leader Branch Is Dead

  • The main branch of the tree dies
  • There may be more than one leader branch
  • Pruning may make your tree more viable

Many trees have what we call a leader branch, which is one of the main branches at the stem of the tree. There can be quite a few leader branches or there can be one. When a tree has more than one, the branches will compete for dominance and that can cause problems.

You need to prune your tree so that you only have one leader branch and the rest of the tree will be healthy.

If you only have one leader and it dies, pruning the tree might help it to survive. You can help a new leader emerge if you know what you are doing, but it requires quite a practiced hand. This isn’t something you can do yourself. According to Gardener’s Path, you may have to wait out the new leader, but one should emerge in an otherwise healthy tree.

1. Tree Is Misshapen

  • Helps to keep certain trees small
  • Will keep trees from growing wildly
  • Reduces weight

Just like everything else, trees sometimes need a little trim just to look their best.

According to the Heritage Arborculture Center, “Regular tree management maintains the health of the tree and provides a more distinct environment. Recommended works will depend on many factors including whether there are any nearby hazards, evidence of decay or disease, species etc,” but the biggest reason to trim a tree is because it is misshapen and that causes problems throughout all stages of the tree’s life.

Of course, it will also help to give your trees more of a uniform look that most homeowners really want.

Misshapen trees are more likely to have health problems, more likely to fall during storms, and are even less likely to recover from any problems that emerge. It is just part of a healthy life for your trees.

Contact AK Timber Services for all of your tree care needs – we can help you at any stage of the tree process, from planting and taking care of your tree to pruning and cutting it down to watering. Of course, we can also help you with any questions about whether or not you can remove trees or debris from your yard. Call us today at (360) 635-1076 for all of your tree care needs – we offer free estimates. No matter what, make sure that you do not take tree trimming into your own hands, as this can cause quite a bit of damage.

Header photo courtesy of Scott Costello on Flickr!

Don’t Blow Leaves Onto Your Neighbors Property and Other Rules

By AK Timber

Whether you like your neighbors or you are mortal enemies, tree care is something that we have to work together for – no matter what your relationship is. Trees are beautiful and if anything can bring you together with someone that you have nothing in common with other than a property line, they can. For most of us, trees are just a beautiful part of your yards. However, some people find that they do fight over their trees.

Whether it is falling leaves, trees pests, branches that fell, or a large branch overhanging your garage, tree care can sometimes cause some pretty big arguments. A good neighbor can be extremely helpful with tree care, but a bad one can make you start questioning what your rights and responsibilities are as a homeowner. Even if you have a good neighbor, fights over trees can quickly turn sour.

That is why you need to know what your responsibilities are, what their responsibilities are, and where you can take control. Here are some rules to follow for neighborly tree care:

4. You Own What Is On Your Side of the Property

  • You can trim the overhanging part of the tree
  • The tree belongs to the property where the trunk falls
  • You can only trim to the property line

If your neighbor has a tree that is right near the property line and is causing problems for you, or even if you just don’t like the looks of it, you can cut it in most places. In some counties, this isn’t the case so if you don’t get along with your neighbor, you can always check local rules for the full details. If you can trim the tree, it is important to know that you can only go as far back as over the property line, if you go any further, it is a problem.

If you have the opposite problem and a tree that is in your yard overhangs your neighbor’s yard, you can cut that back as well – and you should, just to make sure that everything is handled properly.

According to FindLaw,  “As a general rule a property owner who trims an encroaching tree belonging to a neighbor can trim only up to the boundary line and must obtain permission to enter the tree owner’s property, unless the limbs threaten to cause imminent and grave harm. A property owner cannot cut the entire tree down and cannot destroy the structural integrity or the cosmetic symmetry and appeal of a tree by improper trimming.”

3. Can I Harvest From My Neighbors?

  • You can eat fruit from the tree after it falls
  • Air rights do not have a place here
  • You must clean up fruit even if you do not eat it

Something that many of us learned as children is that many people are protective of their trees and shrubs, whether they are apple trees or berry trees. The eternal question is this: who actually owns that fruit? According to ABC News, someone can be arrested for theft if they just pick fruit off of someone’s tree without their permission beforehand.

If the fruit falls onto your property, on the other hand, you can pick it up and eat it – but you might want to check it for any pests that are quick to attack. Of course, it is important to know that sometimes fruit will fall onto your property and your neighbor will come over to get it – and that is actually illegal.

2. You Can’t Blow Leaves Onto Your Neighbor’s Property

  • Wherever the leaves fall, that is the property owner who has to eliminate them
  • You cannot dump the leaves on someone else’s property either, even if a majority of them fall on your yard
  • The tree owner has no claim to the leaves

No one really wants to spend their Saturdays and Sundays raking leaves when they worked all week long. Raking them into a few piles is fun, but doing the work to get them out of gardens or putting them into trash bags gets old very quickly. For people who don’t have many trees in their yards, they sometimes wonder where all of those leaves come from – and they get angry.

However, if leaves or other debris fall onto your property, they are yours to eliminate. After all, probably a few leaves leave your yard as well. You have to clean up everything on your property and dispose of it properly (meaning not on someone else’s side). One of the main reasons for this is that it is hard for anyone to really determine where a leaf comes from – or who it belongs to.

According to Home Guides, you might want to rake your leaves in your neighbor’s yard if they are older or cannot do it themselves – just to keep up the relationship.

1. Pests Require Teamwork

  • Tree owner has the responsibility of pests
  • Spraying sometimes ruins other areas of the yard
  • Contact a professional in many cases

Many people don’t have problems with their neighbors until they see that they are spraying poisonous materials into the air. If you see this, it is in your family’s best interests to maybe talk about other options. As the reverse, you want to do the same thing for your neighbors.

However, we need to take care of pests as they come, so what should you do? Mostly, your neighbor will have to take care of his trees and you will have to take care of your own. However, sometimes you will have to work together to eliminate the problem. The best thing to do is talk to each other to try to work through it.

For many places, infestations need to be tackled and if your neighbor isn’t willing, you can contact the local government, according to AVVO.

Contact AK Timber Services for all of your tree care needs – we can help you at any stage of the tree process, from planting and taking care of your tree to pruning and cutting it down to watering. Of course, we can also help you with any questions about whether or not you can remove trees or debris from your yard. Call us today at (360) 635-1076 for all of your tree care needs – we offer free estimates.

Header photo courtesy of lns1122 on Flickr!

What Are the Invasive Species I Need to Look For?

By AK Timber

Pests – we all have them in our yards and we all know that some of them aren’t great and some of them actually do a lot of good. Unfortunately, many people try to eradicate invasive species on their own, which often does more damage than it does good. You may try to use caustic substances or DIY methods that will just aggravate the invasive pests instead of eliminating them – and then you might have an even bigger problem on your hands.

But what are the invasive species you need to look out for in your yard? Here are the most common in our area:

4. Hornets

  • Can live in or around trees
  • Tend to move in spring months
  • Can grow to 300+ colony size

Hornets, especially those of the European variety, have been extremely prevalent throughout the United States for over 150 years, according to the Penn State Department of Agriculture. Not only are these pests annoying, they are dangerous for those who have children or pets. Their sting is quite painful and can send people into shock with the pain. Even worse, they have a tendency to swarm if they are disturbed.

Signs of a hornet infestation include seeing them flying around, spotting the nest (typically tucked back into a cavity of some sort), and sometimes you may see debris left over from the hornets. You are more likely to get hornets in dead trees that have hollow portions or in stumps.

If you have a hornet nest in your tree or property at all, it is best to let it sit and contact professionals who can help you with removal. There are ways to eliminate the nest promptly and safely, but most people who aren’t professionals might need help.

3. Tomato Hornworm

  • Can be controlled by handpicking
  • Destroys tomato, potato, pepper, eggplant, and tobacco plants
  • Often spotted in midsummer

A particularly annoying pest for those that like to grow their own vegetables, tomato hornworms can be a problem for trees and other greenery as well – they don’t discriminate, especially in the height of growing season.

Planet Natural offers some advice on how to differentiate them from some other species: “Likely to be the largest caterpillars you’ll see in the vegetable garden, tomato hornworms (3-4 inches long), are green with seven diagonal white strips and a black or red horn projecting from the rear. Adults are large (4-5 inch wingspan), heavy-bodied moths. They are gray or brown in color with white zigzags on the rear wings and orange or brownish spots on the body. Also called a sphinx or hawk moth, they fly quickly and are able to hover like a hummingbird.”

You can also look for their droppings along the leaves of the tree. If you think they are there, you can spray a little bit of water onto the area and wait – they will start to move around quite quickly as they do not like water. In these cases, where there aren’t too many, you can easily solve the problem by handpicking them off of the trees and greenery. To prevent the tomato hornworm from coming into your yard, you can till the soil in the fall and/or winter to bring the pupae to the surface.

2. Azalea Lace Bug

  • One of the newest pests
  • Found on evergreen azalea plants, mountain laurels, and rhododendrons
  • Introducing spiders can help

Another pest that we need to worry about is the Azalea Lace Bug, also known as Evergreen Azalea Lace Bug. These bugs can be difficult to spot until it is too late, which is why people need to be vigilant about inspecting their plants and trees. According to Oregon State, you need to look for the eggs that are laid in the midrib on the underside of leaves and away from the sunlight – something that makes them more difficult to spot. As they age, they get darker and it becomes much easier to spot them.

More often, people spot them when they start to notice the damage on their trees and shrubs. They see that the leaves are turning white and curling up towards the edges.

To eliminate them, some people will introduce azalea plant bug, tree crickets, earwigs, green lacewings, minute pirate bugs, and/or spiders to their gardens so that they naturally eliminate them. Of course, there are ways to eliminate them with more forceful means as well.

1. Corn Earworm

  • Can be devastating
  • Found all over the United States
  • Lifecycle is less than 30 days

Why fear the corn earworm? The University of Florida explains: “Corn earworm is considered by some to be the most costly crop pest in North America. It is more damaging in areas where it successfully overwinters, however, because in northern areas it may arrive too late to inflict extensive damage. It often attacks valuable crops, and the harvested portion of the crop. Thus, larvae often are found associated with such plant structures as blossoms, buds, and fruits. When feeding on lettuce, larvae may burrow into the head. On corn, its most common host, young larvae tend to feed on silks initially, and interfere with pollination, but eventually they usually gain access to the kernels.”

If you see this bug on anything, whether it is a porch swing or a plant, you should try to kill it. Sadly, the only other effective ways to eliminate it require a professional to use highly damaging chemicals that make your yard unsafe for pets and children for some time. The best thing to do is kill them and hope that the infestation doesn’t get too bad.

Contact AK Timber Services for all of your tree care needs – we can help you at any stage of the tree process, from planting and taking care of your tree to pruning and cutting it down to watering. Of course, we can also help you to eliminate pests from your trees, shrubs, plants, and property. Call us today at (360) 635-1076 for all of your tree care needs – we offer free estimates.

Header photo courtesy of US Dept. of Agriculture on Flickr!

Hover Parenting Techniques For Your Trees

By AK Timber

Think about when you were learning how to drive. Every time you approached an intersection, a stop sign, or another car, whoever was teaching you probably started stomping on the floor to hit the break. This person may have yelled whenever they thought you were going too fast or you were too close to other cars.

It is a common occurrence that probably didn’t stop once you passed the test and the state said you could drive. Your parents didn’t want you to drive in the rain, the snow, or when the sun was too bright. They were afraid when you drove their cars but even worse when you drove your own.

However, you only really got better when they allowed you to fly on your own.

It’s a bit of a stretch, but this is how your trees feel as well if you try to do too much to them. Like a teenager, sometimes trees function best (and aren’t prone to outbursts) when they are just left alone.

Think you might be hover parenting your trees? You need to stop.

Start with these four tips:

4. You’ve Pruned By Yourself

  • Causes lasting damage to the health of the tree
  • Hurts the likelihood of a good fruit harvest or spring flowers
  • Your tools might be doing more harm than good

Let’s be honest, our parents aren’t always great drivers and when we learn from them, we tend to learn their bad driving techniques. It isn’t until years later that we realize that we get road rage like our mothers or drive slightly to the right like our fathers. These are things that, if we were taught by a professional, we might not do and might be safer drivers.

The same is true in regard to trees. By doing something like pruning, which should be handled by a professional, by yourself, you are setting yourself up for fights and errors.  You are going to make mistakes that you think are right based on what you’ve seen your parents do, people do in movies, or just what seems right. This isn’t a good idea.

What you do to your tree when you are pruning it will impact its overall health, possibly for the rest of its life – or shorten its life dramatically. Tree Care Tips advises that you should never cut more than a quarter of your tree back at any given time – but even snapping off a twig is too much if you aren’t sure what you’re doing.

Remember that when you are trimming your tree, you are creating lacerations in it and those wounds will need time to mend and in order to heal correctly – and there isn’t any way to speed this process up. This means using the proper tools and the best techniques for tree pruning is imperative.

3. Your Soil is Wrong

  • Professional soil testing can help you determine what is good and what isn’t
  • Make sure to balance out nutrition with your ecosystem
  • Testing is necessitated every few years

Delivering nutrients is one of the most basic ways we show anything or anyone that we appreciate them. Going back to the driving metaphor, when we first get a car, most of us are particular about cleaning them consistently and changing the fluids.  What we don’t realize is that we aren’t allowing our cars to function properly and then we might not know when something is wrong.

This is similar to tree care because most people who love their trees overlook the fact that the soil might be killing them slowly and gradually. They throw spoil on the ground, water regularly, and pick off anything that doesn’t look right – clearing any signs and symptoms that something is going dangerously wrong.

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the pH of your dirt is one of the most critical elements to consider – and for most home lawns, you want the pH to be about 6.5. This will support all of the necessary functions of your tree, including soaking up nutrients, growing, repairing from cuts, and producing flowers and harvests.

2. You’ve Irrigated Too Often or Too Much

  • Leaves start to turn color or textures
  • Tends to happen in the wet season
  • Allow land to dry out at times

Sometimes too much of a good thing is undoubtedly a bad thing. Too much junk food, too much exercise, too much TV time, and even too much water are all bad for humans.

Too much water is also really, really bad for your trees. When you water them too much, you are actually causing a lot of problems.

If you have irrigated your trees too much, you will see the following problems, according to Home Guides, if your trees have yellowing leaves, blisters, or exposed roots, it is possible that your trees have had too much water.

If you see any of these clues, you need to scale back on the watering. Sometimes just allowing your tree to dry out can help it to get back on track. Other times, you may need to do some digging to elimate water that is stored in the soil – but this is most common during flooding or stormy seasons.

1. You Are Worrying About the Pests Too Much

  • Sprays can be more harmful than the pests
  • Some “unwanted pests” are actually good for the trees
  • Nature tends to take care of itself without intervention

Just like some blunders when you are learning how to drive (how else will you remember to put on the emergency brake when you part on a hill unless your car has taken out a neighbor’s fence?), some pests aren’t a problem on your trees. In fact, trees and pests need to coexist for both to survive.

When there are too many, then the problems start.

According to ThoughtCo, “Insects that attack trees come in many sizes and shapes. The beetles consume leaf parts and inner bark; the aphids, leafminers, and moths defoliate; the borers consume wood; the gall-making wasps deform limbs and leaves. Not all insects will kill a tree, but the “killers” listed can be certain death when insect populations explode.”

So really, you have to be cautious and prudent when it comes to treating your tree if you think there is an infestation. Sometimes, the methods that you would use to destroy the pests or insects might do more damage. You also need to know that not all pests look like insects – birds and mammals can be hazardous as well.

Contact AK Timber Services for all of your tree care needs – we can help you at any stage of the tree process, from planting and taking care of your tree to pruning and cutting it down to watering. Call us today at (360) 635-1076 for all of your tree care needs – we offer free estimates.

Header photo courtesy of Barb Manning on Flickr!

Tricks For Adding Trees To Your Yard

By AK Timber

What does your dream backyard look like? Is it is sparsely filled? Does it have nothing to do? Or is it a lush wonderland with livable spaces and beautiful configurations of plant life and hardscaping? Over the years, it might have seemed like your dreams of a beautiful outdoor space have slipped away – but worry not, they haven’t.

You still have a chance to get that beautiful yard.

If you want to add a tree to your yard, you first have to think about the type of trees you want to add – something small and flowery to provide brightness to your yard or something tall and elegant that will make your home stand out. The options are up to you.

Before you think about planting a tree and even thinking about what type of tree you want to plant, you have to think about what function you want that tree to play in your yard. Do you want something that will require a lot of upkeep? Something that will thrive even if you don’t do anything to them. You also have to think about cost and work and upkeep – all crucial parts of being a tree owner.

Want to start dreaming that yard you’ve always dreamt of? Below are 4 landscape design choices to consider when adding a tree:

4. Take a peek out of the window

  • Security and safety are important
  • Remember that curb appeal matters as well
  • Must be one of the first things you think about

According to HGTV, one of the biggest landscaping mistakes you can make is to plant a tree before looking at it from all angles – including from the inside of your home. You want to look out of your window and determine what type of tree you’d like to see. Maybe you need to close your eyes to picture it or even put a little cut out you printed on your window.

We spend a lot of time looking out of our windows, so you need to enjoy that view.

Think about what you see from inside your home that you no longer want to see – people, places, cars, etc. Then think about what you absolutely need to see, like a playground where your kids go or your pool. You will want to make a note of these before you choose your tree. Remember that trees grow and even if you can see something now, you might not be able to in a few years.

3. Consider looking from above to get the best layout

  • Professional landscapers will be able to walk you through the process, if need be
  • Consider plants, sidewalks, water features, patios, and so much more – and of course your tree
  • Remember that you have to live in this space

When planting a tree, you have to realize that this tree will be part of the ecosystem of your yard – which means that you need to put it in a smart place. Most people just plant trees in one space and don’t think about how the roots, shade cover, and branches will impact other structures and life in the yard. Lifehacker suggests looking at your area from an aerial view to see where a tree will look the best. At the very least, this will give you a few ideas on where, when, and how to plant your tree.

Once you have it narrowed down, you can then take tape or chalk and mark out the area on the ground to get an even better view.

2. Trees impact your home’s value

  • Remember that trees do take some time to grow, so you want to give them that time
  • Curb appeal is a buzzword – but it really does make a different in selling your home
  • Do not go overboard with too many trees, or people will only see added cost

If you are thinking about selling your home into the future, the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers has a basic suggestion: plant a tree or two. If you do this, you could be adding as much as $10,000 to your home’s value. Even better, you could (and should) be adding to the to the curb appeal, which means people will be more likely to get into a bidding war over your home, which could spell more money for you.

Once again, remember that trees take some time to grow so you need to plant them early into the future.

1. Bring the inside, outside

  • Use trees as part of your livable space
  • Conceal yourself from neighbors
  • Get your own space

According to Better Homes and Gardens: “If you don’t want to work on making your entire yard a private paradise, take one corner and transform it into a secluded getaway. A simple way to do this is to carefully place a couple of trees to form a pocket. Here, for example, two pines make a hammock feel tucked away. A redbud just behind the hammock enhances the effect.”

Many people don’t have outdoor spaces that they really enjoy spending time in for any number of reasons – bugs, sunburns, nosy neighbors, noisy neighbors, or just too much to do on the inside. By planting trees, you can make an outdoor space that is private and comfortable – one you want to spend time in. It might take some planning and forethought, but it is worth it.

No matter what type of trees, shrubs, or plant life you have, you want to keep them protected and cared for as much as possible. Your soil can only do so much to keep the water going to the roots, your tree can only do so much work on its own, and then you will need some help to back you up. Contact AK Timber Services for all of your tree care needs – we can help you at any stage of the tree process, from planting and taking care of your tree to pruning and cutting it down to watering. Call us today at (360) 635-1076 for all of your tree care needs – we offer free estimates.

Header photo courtesy of Sound_Gene on Flickr!

Why Mulch May Hurt Your Trees

By AK Timber

“Put mulch around your trees,” is one of the biggest pieces of advice you’ll hear when you tell someone that your trees aren’t looking healthy. “It is one of the best things you can do for it,” they’ll tell you, along with some long-winded story about how their trees are beautiful now. Mulch is truly a great product – it can make all the difference in your gardens. Why is it a great addition to many gardens? It minimizes the amount of weeds in the soil around the tree, assists with moisture retention in the drier months, keeps soil temperature level, and also it looks better than the simple ground does at many homes.

Still, there are some problems with mulch that people don’t tell you about.

You have to be careful when it comes to placing mulch in your yard. It isn’t something that you can do haphazardly or quickly – you may be doing more damage than you are doing good.

Here are a few things to take into consideration when you apply mulch around your tree:

Root Girdling

  • Leads to excessive dieback of tree
  • Girdling stunts the growth of trees
  • Makes tree at risk to various other diseases

When a tree is girdled, there is a band that goes around the bottom of the trunk. Mulch can sometimes cause girdling, especially if you use those rubber mulch mats that are basically made out of tires. Girdling threatens the livelihood of the tree because it causes a blockade on the flow of nutrients and water to the rest of the tree. Over time, your tree will certainly start to wither away.

Your tree will begin to look really, really different when it has a root that is girdling the bottom of it – note that girdling can appear around branches as well. Normally, when it is around the root, the tree’s trunk will begin to flare out near the surface of the ground. Sometimes you won’t see this at all. Instead, you will see the tree getting narrower, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. They say that,The threat depends on the size of the root and the amount of the tree’s circumference affected. It is almost impossible to predict if a developing girdling root will cause problems for a tree. However, if a tree has girdling roots it is more likely to have problems than one without them.”

You Might Cut Off the Oxygen Supply

  • Roots need oxygen to help the tree grow
  • Tree development can be cut off at any stage
  • Eventually, suffocation could occur

All plants, including trees, need oxygen to make it through their growth and regeneration. This is because without access to clean oxygen, the trees cannot carry out something called aerobic respiration nor can they complete photosynthesis. This process utilizes water, co2, and the sunlight’s power to produce oxygen. This happens around the tree, however not in the origins, according to USCB Science Line.

The tree is able to get air from the dirt near the roots to carry out photosynthesis — yet with too much mulch too close to the bottom, it is most likely that the dirt is compacted and doesn’t have as much air.

Mulch Can Push Soil to the Trunk

  • Traps water in and creates a greenhouse under the mulch
  • Triggers tree bark to decay and softening
  • Trees are extra susceptible to fungus

One of the biggest reasons people decide to put mulch around their trees is to get a more consistent, beautiful look. But you have to think about the heat and water that the mulch creates around the roots of your tree.  As the ground heats up, your tree’s trunk and roots will soften and that can cause many different problems.

Soil isn’t always great for your trees – especially when it is packed around the base. SFGate explains why: “Soil added around a tree reduces the amount of oxygen available to the roots and slows the rate of gas exchange in and around the roots. There may be less moisture and nutrients available to the roots or too much moisture may remain around the tree’s roots. Inadequate oxygen reaching the roots or microorganisms in the soil around the roots can lead to an accumulation of chemicals that can injure tree roots. The tree’s bark may decay where soil is newly in contact with it. Damage or injury to the tree because of the added soil may not become apparent for several months or years and generally appears as a slow decline followed by death.”

There are many other options besides mulch to help your tree feel and look attractive. You have to be judicious what you do with mulch. Most importantly, you want to find a mulch that is high quality and uses only natural products – or it can leech into the ground and cause even worse problems.

Note that some of these issues can occur with natural mulch and rubber mulch as well, though they seem to be exasperated with rubber mulch. You need to beware when you spread mulch and you should constantly check your tree for any type of troubles that you see.

No matter what type of trees, shrubs, or plant life you have, you want to keep them protected and cared for as much as possible. Your soil can only do so much to keep the water going to the roots, your tree can only do so much work on its own, and then you will need some help to back you up. Contact AK Timber Services for all of your tree care needs – we can help you at any stage of the tree process, from planting and taking care of your tree to pruning and cutting it down to watering. Call us today at (360) 635-1076 for all of your tree care needs – we offer free estimates.

Header photo courtesy of Phil Roeder on Flickr!